topic_interest is exactly Google Meets
2020-03-21It was my first year teaching middle school history. I was bright-eyed, excited, and felt like I had finally found my calling in life. I went into spring break with such an excited feeling about my new career path. Coming from retail, I could finally have time to spend with my family and not have to worry about making a quota. Then the email came. We would be moving to distance learning and I would not get the chance to finish my first year as an educator with my first group of kids. The sound I most remember was the Google Meets login when someone joined. That sound will forever be associated with the pandemic. The sound I had never heard before became the sound that brought me joy as I was finally able to make sure my students were okay. I remember that sound and immediately checking to see who was logging in. It brought mixed feelings of compassion, empathy, and sadness. Even as we started to get back into the classroom, nothing would ever be the same as it once was. But that sound, that one quick sound, brought on the emotions of this educator. And I hope I will never have to hear that sound again.
2020-12-08I taught both middle and high school during the pandemic, which required virtual learning. I lived with a roommate and both of us couldn’t teach at the same time in the same room, so I taught exclusively from the floor of my walk-in closet. I sat on the floor of that 5’x3’ closet every work day for 9 months. The carpet was scratchy and my legs would often fall asleep from sitting in one place too long. I often woke up just before class started at 7:30AM and was groggy. Many of us ate breakfast during first period. The thing that bothered me most however was the silence. The only sound of class was me, talking. My lecture, my out loud readings for accommodated students, and my replies to students typing in the chat were the only things I heard for 5-6 hours of the day. There were none of the usually noises I associate with my job: idle chatter from every corner of the room, tapping of pencils, the pencil sharpener, a student blowing their nose, clicking of pens, hoody zippers, crinkling paper, students moving around in their chairs, chip bags opening, metal water bottles falling on the floor and a student yelling “foul” afterwards, occasional shouting, crying, and groaning. Students very rarely, if ever, turned on their cameras or mics to talk to me. I surely was isolated more than the average remote worker; yes, I talked all day, but it felt like it was talking to no one. I don’t have much tangible evidence to show from the pandemic. Frankly, I didn’t do anything noteworthy of documenting. The three pictures attached are from the beginning of the pandemic, around December 2020. Google Meets hadn’t quite caught up to some of their pitfalls technologically and teachers had to “kick out” each student manually, and when 7-10 of your students are AWOL, it can get tedious. I started to make up dumb games and sing songs to entertain myself, please enjoy my new line to the Oompa Loompa song. You can see that all the students are just icons—no faces, no voices. For reference, I have attached two videos of the end of the school year from before the pandemic. You can hear how loud the classroom is with all the students talking to each other, or playing games and dancing to music. After seeing these small clips, you can understand just how soul-destroying it was to teach to a bunch of digital circles who made no noise.